Average Cost Of A Contested Divorce
While costs will likely range from $2,500 to $30,000, the price tag will depend on how combative the divorce is and whether or not alternatives like collaborative divorce or mediation are utilized. The typical cost of a divorce is $15,000 per person in the U.S. This estimate includes court costs, attorney fees and hiring of outside professionals, such as real estate appraisers, child custody specialists or tax advisors.
Here is a breakdown of the average contested divorce costs:
- Lowest Cost: $2,500.
- Average Cost: $15,000.
- Highest Cost: $30,000.
Contested Divorce Details
A contested divorce is when neither party can agree on child custody arrangements, division of property and assets, etc. In some cases, one of the spouses does not want to get divorced at all, so legal intervention is required to facilitate the process. Costs are high because this divorce will take the attorney longer to assist clients in making legal decisions, filing necessary paperwork and representing them in court, if needed.
In contested divorce settings, spouses may have a lot of issues that need to be brought up in front of a judge. This, of course, will only tack on to the final costs.
Contested Divorce Attorney Fees
Family law attorneys typically bill around $150-$250 per hour, depending on location. Some attorneys can charge up to $650 per hour in order to assist individuals through complex divorce situations. According to Thumbtack, you should expect to pay somewhere between $12,000 to $15,000 in total attorney fees.
Child Custody Assessment
The court may want a child custody assessment in a situation where the two parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the custody schedule. The assessment will be performed by a child psychologist who will spend time interviewing the parents, talking to the child, as well as observing the child in their home setting. The assessment should cost between $1,000 to $2,500, if performed by an assessor who works for the county. A private assessor could charge up to $10,000-plus.
If there happens to be a jointly owned property in a contested divorce, you may have to sell it during the process. There can also be costs for renting or buying homes at this time. Children may have to see a counselor, as well. There can also be fees for accountants and financial lawyers to handle the sale of any properties. Individuals will be required to pay filing fees within the court. Filing fees may be waved if you cannot afford them.
What is A Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce is a type of divorce in which the spouses cannot reach an agreement on one or more significant issues related to the divorce, leading to a dispute that requires resolution through the legal process, such as mediation, negotiation, or litigation in court. In a contested divorce, the spouses typically disagree on various aspects of the divorce settlement, which may include:
- Division of Marital Assets and Debts: Disputes may arise over how to divide marital property, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage. This can include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and more.
- Child Custody and Visitation: When the divorcing couple has children, disputes may revolve around child custody (legal and physical) and visitation rights. The parents may disagree on who should have primary custody or how visitation should be structured.
- Child Support: Calculating child support payments can be a point of contention. The parents may disagree on the appropriate amount of child support, how it should be calculated, or how expenses related to the children should be shared.
- Spousal Support (Alimony): The issue of spousal support, also known as alimony, can be highly contentious. Disputes may arise over the amount, duration, or necessity of spousal support payments.
- Division of Retirement Accounts: Couples with retirement accounts like 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions may disagree on how to divide these assets during the divorce.
- Other Financial Matters: Additional financial disputes can include issues related to taxes, insurance, and the payment of joint debts.
- Property and Asset Valuation: Valuing certain assets, such as businesses, real estate, or unique assets, can lead to disputes when determining their worth for equitable distribution.
- Marital Misconduct: Accusations of marital misconduct, such as infidelity or financial wrongdoing, may further complicate the divorce process and contribute to the dispute.
In a contested divorce, the resolution of these issues often requires legal intervention. The process may involve negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or, in some cases, litigation in court. Litigation is typically the last resort when other methods of dispute resolution have failed to reach a satisfactory agreement.
Contested divorces tend to be more time-consuming, emotionally draining, and costly compared to uncontested divorces, where both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce. Legal representation is often recommended in contested divorces to protect the rights and interests of each party and to navigate the complex legal process effectively.
It’s important to note that the specific laws governing divorce, as well as the procedures for resolving disputes, can vary from one jurisdiction to another. If you are considering a divorce and anticipate that it may be contested, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance and represent your interests throughout the process.
Need Divorce Attorneys In Scottsdale?
The High Desert Family Law Group should be your first choice when you need the best divorce lawyer in Scottsdale or Phoenix, Arizona. Our experienced family law attorneys will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. Proven trial lawyers in family court, you can trust the firm to represent you fully so you can get on with your life. Call today for your initial consultation.